Papanasam Kamal Haasan

– Finally, here is a film in which Kamal Haasan plays a role without showing us flashes of Kamal Haasan anywhere. Eg: There comes a mention of a swamiji who’ll be conducting a meditation session. Think of the potential for ridicule given the film has the rationalist. But no, it’s used only as a plot point, which was a huge relief. Kamal Haasan gives up all his medhaavithanam and has become Suyambulingam, which is brilliant! He even has viboothi on his forehead throughout. Phew!

– The way he switches off the light in the mornings. The way he talks at the dinner table. The way he watches the television. The way he asks his daughter to sit carefully on the arm of the chair. The way he walks with hands folded behind his back when talking to his father-in-law… Playing a simple man is actually a difficult task. And Kamal does it well!

– One of my friends, who had seen the Malayalam Drishyam told me that Mohanlal had underplayed the character. “Not so emotional in the climax”, he said. But, I felt getting emotional was right. Because if Suyambulingam did not get emotional it would mean that he is not respecting the emotions of the other couple. It would mean that he still has some suspicion, if they would get him caught. So for me the breakdown in the climax felt like Suyambulingam was moved by their emotions, trusted them and asked for forgiveness. It worked for me.

– The one thing that I felt odd about the climax though was Suyambulingam, referring to himself as a “small man”. “Chinna manushan sir naan” or something like that he says. That line alone keeps irking me. It feels like a writer’s line. A writer might say that about a character, but would a normal person say that about himself? A normal person might say, “Enakku suyanalam” or something similar. Who says, “Naan chinna manushan sir. Enakkunnu oru kooda pola kudumbam”?

– The usage of the Nellai words is brilliant and hats off and all that. But somehow I feel Jeyamohan should not be used for this purpose anymore. I think he overdoes it. The usage of certain words was jarring and distracting from the narrative. I have felt this in Jeyamohan’s short stories as well, in which he writes the dialogues in regional dialect sometimes. They become unreadable. I would also like to submit Kadal as another evidence. Please Jeyamohan. Write books for your fan following _/\_

– I felt the film’s writing was too perfect. Just like the story Suyambulingam concocts. Every single thing and person is there for a reason and everything ties together in the end. It’s a waterproof plot. That’s tightly woven. And that somehow irks me. Probably because it is too tight 🙂


– After flipping through the Malayalam version quickly, I felt the Tamil version was much better in several instances. Kamal and Gauthami felt more intimate than Mohanlal and Meena. Kalabhavan Mani was a better cast choice as the witness constable. He looks more menacing and short-tempered, as compared to some clown-like guy who played this role in Malayalam. 

– Also, some small but minor differences: The conversation between Kamal and Delhi Ganesh is crisp in Tamil. In Malayalam, when they go to their in-law’s place, Meena and Mohanlal argue about Meena wanting to put the kids in a better school and the father-in-law cracks some joke about women wanting to buy household appliances. Unnecessary. The way Kamal intimidates Kalabhavan Mani in the first half without talking directly to him is much better. This way of intimidating the opponet has shades of Virumandi. In Malayalam, Mohanlal talks directly to the constable and makes fun of him. 


– Somehow Kamal felt more common man than Mohanlal. The way he asks daughter to do math well when she’s reading for a science test. His obsession over little amounts of money, his reaction when a contractor offers him the card of an MLA, the friendly slap he gives to his assistant after claiming to be “Padikkadha mesai”. These minor points grounded the character more. Mohanlal’s performance somehow felt bland throughout. Like he was just there and going through the motions. Even when the yellow car’s alarm goes off Mohanlal is so freaking calm while deactivating it. The shot where the twist is revealed as the police inspectors whirl around to look at Kamal, the reaction on Kamal’s face was kickass. Mohanlal was simply staring and almost beginning to run towards the public. In the climax too, there was no remorse or guilt as he spoke to the inspector. There is a very thin line between subtlety and not doing anything.

– And the small but clever masterstroke in the climax of the police inspector tapping the floor with his shoes which intercuts to Kamal thumping the floor with his foot to reveal the actual place in which the body is buried was well done. That part’s added only in Tamil. In Malayalam, Mohanlal simply turns around and leaves and we get the intercut shots. That’s the advantage a remake has. It can enhance the original and Papanasam definitely does that.

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